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This week’s short debate was led by Mike Hedges AM (Lab, Swansea East) on the subject of apprenticeships – subject to a statement earlier this week – and professional registration.
“Devastating effects of negligent hairdressing”
Mike started off by saying that if he tried to practice as a solicitor, builder, carpenter or hairdresser the full force of the law would only come down on him if he tried to set up as a solicitor as there’s legal protection for the profession.
While the other professions aren’t regulated in the same way, because practitioners often deal with dangerous procedures or chemicals the effect of malpractice can be significant. He cited hairdressers and beauty therapists as an example:
“I mean, hairdressing is totally unregulated. I have been told about that the devastating effects of negligent hairdressing treatments range from chemical burns to the scalp and face to loss of hair through misuse of products. The hairdressing industry is currently unregulated. This is a very worrying thought when you consider the chemicals used by hairdressers, who potentially could be untrained and unqualified….Beauty therapists and hairdressers can do permanent damage to your face and head.”
– Mike Hedges AM
The Hairdressing Council have called for regulation of the industry and an attempt was made at Westminster to introduce a backbench bill – which was defeated.
He also mentioned unqualified electricians; nearly a quarter of people have hired an electrician without checking their credentials beforehand, while 1.3million people in the UK have had to pay for a professional to fix the work of an unqualified electrician.
Jack Sargeant AM (Lab, Alyn & Deeside) stressed the importance of continued professional development of qualified apprentices to ensure they can carry out work in a safe manner. Joyce Watson AM (Lab, Mid & West Wales) said stories of rogue traders undermines the work and reputation of competent tradespeople.
Responding to industry changes
Replying on behalf of the government, Economy & Transport Minister, Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South), didn’t really answer the core theme of the debate – professional registration of skilled tradespeople – in great detail. He did, however, recollect trying to regulate the hairdressing profession during his previous role as Skills Minister.
“There’s no doubt that skills are inextricably linked to the ability to carry out work properly, effectively and efficiently….Demand for apprenticeships is changing, as employers seek skills at higher levels, and young people looking towards apprenticeships as an alternative pathway to full-time undergraduate learning.”
– Economy & Transport Minister, Ken Skates
He added that employers were now getting involved in shaping apprenticeships, with a focus on expanding apprenticeships in higher-skilled and technical subjects. The Welsh Government were offering £3,500 to small businesses to recruit apprentices where that business hasn’t been involved in apprenticeships before.